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'Serious medical condition' prompts Avera CEO to step down
Bob Sutton has led health system for a decade
Avera Health announced Monday that President and CEO Bob Sutton will leave his post after he was diagnosed with a “serious medical condition.”
The nature of his condition was not disclosed in the announcement, but Avera did say that it “requires an intensive treatment regimen.” His last day with the organization will be Sept. 30.
“While we are saddened by Bob’s impending departure from the organization, we are inspired by the humble and courageous decision he has made,” Sr. Roxanne Seifert said. “We respectfully request Bob’s privacy with his condition and hold the Sutton family in prayer.”
Seifert is chair of Avera System Members.
In his decade at the helm, Avera opened multiple building projects across its 72,000-square-mile footprint. Avera facilities in Gregory and Gettysburg included new hospitals, clinics and long-term care facilities. Avera Specialty Hospital opened in Sioux Falls and the Helmsley Center opened in Pierre.
Sutton also oversaw the opening of free-standing emergency departments and the expansion of Avera Behavioral Health Hospital, including the area’s first psychiatric urgent care.
“Bob’s leadership and vision have been instrumental in creating a culture of growth, accountability, collaboration and transparency, all of which are indicators of a robust health ministry,” Seifert added. “Bob has our full support to focus on his health, his treatment plan, and his family. We are grateful to Bob for sharing his giftedness and presence with this ministry these many years.”
Sutton joined the system in 2013 as Avera’s executive vice president of human resources.
“During my years at Avera I have met colleagues who turned into lifelong friends,” Sutton said in the announcement. “We have the finest people changing lives each day with the care and services we provide. It has been an honor to lead this rural health system. Although I am sad to step away, I know that Avera’s tremendous leadership team and the guidance of our sponsors will ensure this ministry will be successful long into the future. Thank you for your support. I am facing this time with confidence in my care team and a grateful, hopeful heart.”
Sutton’s executive experience also included serving as president of the South Dakota Community Foundation, vice president of government and public affairs at Citibank and executive vice president of the South Dakota Bankers Association.
He is also a past president of the South Dakota Board of Regents, which oversees the state’s university system, and he serves as vice-chairman of the USD Discovery District. He is on the boards of the Catholic Health Association, the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and American Bank & Trust.
He has been married to his wife, Lori, for 32 years. They have two children.
Avera will hire an executive recruiting firm to conduct a national search for Sutton’s replacement.